Deep Space Alien

Octopuses are sometimes called in literature “deep sea aliens”. This project, inspired by these animals’ peculiar ways and features, was developed within the course in “Concept Design Studio” of the MsC “Integrated Product Design”. The aim was to design a concept design of a habitat module for the (Deep) Space Gateway, the next planned station orbiting around the Moon. All the projects focused on the human conditions provided by the environment. Expert support and brief were provided by Thales Alenia Space.
What

Concept Design

When

2018

Context

Academic project with the aerospace company Thales Alenia

Team

International interdisciplinary team

My role

Overall project, and leadership of the team

Movement

Our main concept was to revolutionise the way to move inside a space station. With this purpose, we designed two products, a pair of shoes and a belt, and covered the internal surfaces with a technology similar to VELCRO. The idea is to provide, with a simple principle, a force able to keep the astronaut on the surface in order to re-create the familiar experience of walking and to facilitate the restraint.

Module

The overall module needed to be minimal, flexible and understandable. We wanted to keep the largest amount of volume for the astronauts’ everyday life but also maintain all the necessary storage for instruments, supplies and appliances. The octagonal shape allowed us to reach the maximum efficiency in terms of relation stowage/habitation.

Usage in the daily life

Largely used on the International Space Station, VELCRO is an established technology which allows to solve many practical issues nowadays. A planned enlarged use of it on the Gateway would offer advantages in terms of physical retention and support to movements, dramatically changing the way astronauts move in microgravity. The daily actions were studied to redesign them, for example reimagining working by providing continuous support to enhance comfort and focus. The stowage management aimed to reduce chaos and vulnerability of subsystems through the VELCRO panels.

Functional areas

For what concerns the usability and the daily life functions, we decided to divide not the volume but the surface in functional areas. A chromatic code identifies the octagon’s sides in terms of day periods. By applying principles of foldability and collapsibility, we designed a space which can be used as a whole time by time, for different functions, transforming to better accommodate them.

Video inspiration

A short video was created in order to explain the concept and the feelings behind our inspiration. In particular, the idea of movement was suggested by the observation of octopuses in their environment, switching from freely swimming to holding onto the surfaces thanks to their tentacles.

Wrap-up

The teamwork was presented at the Turin headquarters of Thales Alenia Space, in front of the company’s representatives. The design was appreciated and recognised with maximum grade under the evaluation of the commission, involving both academic and industrial sides.